HEARING the sound of his own voice is something 66-year-old Bob Page does not take for granted, especially after not being able for talk for three years following a laryngectomy to remove cancer in his throat.
Ten days after first being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Mr Page, a former truck driver, was left without a voice box, and his loved ones were forced to become experts at lip reading.
“It was terrible – very frustrating,” he said.
After three years of using whiteboards and a pen and paper to help him communicate, Mr Page was called up to be a guinea pig in a Botox treatment trial, which helped him regain his speech.
He is the first person in Queensland to trial the treatment, in which fluid Botox is injected into his throat muscle to stop it coming forward and cutting off the air supply, which is needed for speech.
To speak, Mr Page must block a small hole in his neck to stop air from escaping – a process he does with sheer determination.
“After the operation the doctor said, ‘I don’t want you talking for 24 hours’,” he said.
But curiosity got the better of the then 60-year-old, who was desperate to hear the sound of his own voice.
“But I just had to try it – and I got a bit of voice out,” he said.
“The next morning, I was giving it a real workout.”
Mr Page is now supporting Daffodil Day, which is held tomorrow and raises funds for cancer research.
Fresh daffodils will be sold at Sugarland Shopping Town, Hinkler Central and the CBD pavilion during the week, to help reach the Wide Bay fundraising goal of $87,000.
Mr Page’s partner, Pat Glassop, said she felt enormous relief at hearing his voice again.
“You don’t realise the concentration needed for lip reading,” she said.
“It’s difficult when you do it all day – it was stressful for us both.”
Mr Page said he could not imagine life without the Botox treatment.
“I don’t care what people think – I’m not ashamed with what I’ve got,” he said.
“I’ve always been very determined.”